Transition To Power; Isaiah 49-50
April 1, 2015

C. R. Oliver

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January 1, 2015

Transition To Power
Isaiah 49-50

This is a transition chapter. Like Revelation 12, it could well stand alone and be read apart from the prophetic mainstream that flowed from the pen of Isaiah. Similarly, it, like Revelation 12, has elements of an "overview" of spiritual history as it relates to God's people. It is as if the prophet wanted his readers to have the "big picture."

Just as Isaiah was taken into the chambers of heaven to see the "Lord High and Lifted Up," this chapter pulls away the veil of time and shows Jesus as the center of all history. Within the gates of this section will be "glimpses of His regal stature" displayed in a fleeting manner--much like the Song of Solomon. I use the word, "glimpses," because of the structure of the chapter. Here, the author rapidly moves from one segment to another in displaying Jesus' glory. This is the reason I take license in gathering the passages into groupings (and pulling together references) that might not follow the chronology of the Biblical text.

Headings such as "Jesus, the prophet" or "Jesus, the High Priest" or "Jesus as King" are utilized for clarity.

Lastly, I composed a general summary to integrate the portions of Scripture which have not been covered in the groupings.

The goal of these changes is to enhance the reader's understanding of the power found in these verses (as they unfold in presenting Jesus to His covenant people)--several hundred years before His birth in Bethlehem.

Worthy of note is the fact that Jesus is portrayed in various roles. He shares a commonality with all who have presided as the prophet, priest and king before Him. Jesus is shown facing the same kind of opposition as the other true agents of God. In each of the groupings: prophet, priest, king there arises the notion that Jesus faced and excelled against the opposing propensities in each of His callings.

His fulfillment of those roles causes one to relate to Him through His manifold offices.

He encountered resistance to the messages of the prophet, along with the futility of speaking to a people with itching ears. A "renewed priesthood" is pictured through His role as "sacrificial-mediator" for the redemption of the world. He is viewed as a King; and because Kings conquer, He clearly is characterized in the magnitude of His conquering power. Nations and kings bow before Him and even kiss His feet in homage to His greatness.

Therefore, I find it helpful to divide the contents of this message along the lines of each role.

Jesus as prophet:

Because He came as a man and in the role of prophet, He experienced the frustration that all prophets encounter. Having no adherents, observing ears that truly do not listen, seeing no evidence of change because of their warnings and then out--right castigation by society at large are to name a few. Every prophet in the Old Testament faced the discouragement that seeks to attach itself to that office, but each of them overcame that darkness by the "Assurance of their Call." Though most of the time the prophet stands alone, his buoyancy is proven by his persistence and his disregard of the need for human approval.

God speaks and then the prophet speaks. This is the order of the office and is authority at its highest level. When God told Ezekiel, for instance, that He would make his forehead as hard as rock, the Lord knew what would be needed to fulfill his office. Ezekiel's adherence to his call--down to the letter--stands like a citadel in history.

Prophets have the unique position to be "situational watchmen," for "God does nothing that is not revealed through His prophets."

Theirs is not a "resign-able office."

Look at Jonah or Jeremiah as examples of those who could not walk away from their duties. Hear the words of any of the Old Testament "men sent from God," and you will see the golden thread of steadfastness and holiness that accompanied their work. One does not vocationally choose to be a prophet. Prophets are born with that "knowing."

As these passages unfold, difficulty arises over which passages refer to Isaiah and which refer to Jesus. Each served in the prophetic field. Both met the criteria of being "born into the job." Both experienced the "affront" which is associated with their anointing.
Isaiah 49:1-6
1 Listen to me, all of you in far-off lands: The Lord called me before my birth. From within the womb he called me by my name. 2 God will make my words of judgment sharp as swords. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand; I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.

3 He said to me: "You are my Servant, a Prince of Power with God, and you shall bring me glory."

4 I replied, "But my work for them seems all in vain; I have spent my strength for them without response. Yet I leave it all with God for my reward."

5 "And now," said the Lord--the Lord who formed me from my mother's womb to serve him, who commissioned me to restore to him his people Israel, who has given me the strength to perform this task and honored me for doing it!- 6 "you shall do more than restore Israel to me. I will make you a Light to the nations of the world to bring my salvation to them too."

Since I live in a "far off land," this prophecy is for me and those others who dwell in similar territories. Prophets know their message reaches farther than their locale. They know "the Word sent forth" will perform its duty. Earth shattering, time changing, power accompanies the spoken words of the prophet.

History hinges upon the minions of God's words. His words reform, transform and annihilate their target. They mean something. Whether spoken to an inanimate mountain or a crowd of religious "do nothings," once those words are cast into the atmosphere-things are never the same.

Pay attention to verse one, for both Isaiah and Jesus testify they were "called from the womb and endowed with the office of prophet." Both Isaiah and Jesus could testify,
God will make my words of judgment sharp as swords. He has hidden
me in the shadow of his hand; I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.
A prophet is born a "weapon" in the arsenal of God.

Paul also declared the Word to be as sharp as a "two edged sword, dividing asunder the soul and the spirit." (O' this is what is missing today! Yes, how we long to hear the sovereign Word spoken in power from a Sovereign God through a sword wielding prophet! The scatter gun pronouncements, blaring from most of those assuming the office of prophet today, lack hearing anything from God)
He said to me: 'You are my Servant, a Prince of Power with God, and you shall bring Me glory.'
We must listen to the prophetic words from Princes--rather than those puny, pulchritudinous, passionless, imposters.

"Servant Prince" is a dimension of obedience that far surpasses the prophetic nominalism to which we are accustomed. True prophecy is an estate that reaches to heaven for its portion and has but one goal, "To Him be glory forever and ever."

Previously, in chapter forty-eight, great care was taken by the Lord to hide knowledge from those in ascribed power, lest they say, "I knew that." What the true prophet garners is that which man cannot glean from media or rationale. Research can never uncover the likes of what God sees.

Look now at the humility of both Isaiah and Jesus in the declaration every true prophet utters.
4 I replied, 'But my work for them seems all in vain; I have spent my strength for them without response. Yet I leave it all with God for my reward.'
Time will prove the true prophet's words because they will come to pass. The silence of a millennium makes no difference to him, for His words resound through timeless ages. They declare to "the princes of the power of the air" the truth of God. (They do what the prophetic church was designed to do, but is rarely adept at doing.)

Fulfillment is the litmus!

God and His word are inseparable and the guarantee of the true prophet is the assurance that what He has spoken will come to pass. The fulfillment starts in the commissioning and flows through that calling. Who could put out the fire in Jeremiah, when even he could not?

Revel now in the "packaging of a prophet."
5 "And now," said the Lord--the Lord who formed me from my mother's womb to serve him who commissioned me to restore to him his people Israel, who has given me the strength to perform this task and honored me for doing it!- 6 "you shall do more than restore Israel to me. I will make you a Light to the nations of the world to bring my salvation to them too."
Such terms, as the ones underlined, reveal the entity known as the "Seer." Formed, commissioned, strengthened and honored for one goal: "to be a light to the nations of the world to bring MY salvation to them too."

Jesus, who in His ministry, never ventured beyond Israel accomplished His task. He is the Light in darkness and He has opened the door so those dubbed "heathen," so they could come to God through Him.

Isaiah also accomplished his task, for no other prophet is quoted as much as he in the New Testament. Even in the book of Acts, one finds an Ethiopian reading from Isaiah's words. (O' the true church must have true prophets. The Body deserves to hear from those who meet these criteria.)

Jesus in the office of Priest:

Clearly, Jesus is presented as being the High Priest in this chapter. The duties of the Priest included offering sacrifice acceptable to God, mediating between God and man and entering into the Holiest in behalf of all the people. As viewed in these passages, the effective priest must also display a Shepherd's heart.
Isaiah 49:8
8 The Lord says, 'Your request has come at a favorable time. I will keep you from harm and give you as a token and pledge to Israel, proof that I will reestablish the land of Israel and reassign it to its own people again.'
Making a "request" for the whole of Israel is one man, Jesus!

What is the "request?" --That Israel be brought to Him? --That those in spiritual darkness be given Him? (Oh, I believe the "request" involved more than could be imagined. The "request" of a greater than Solomon, standing before God in the power of His glory, had to encompass more than the mind of ordinary men could comprehend! What would be the scope of the "request" from the Great High Priest for His people? How specific, and yet comprehensive, would be the prayer of Such An One? )

In His Priestly capacity, He is not acting as prophet, but is in the role of Mediator. "Re-establish" and "re-assign" are words that carry with them "re-creation and restoration." It is the answer God gave to the "request."

Could it be an end time prayer that His Covenant People be gathered around Him?

Observe this Priest as being Mediator and Shepherd in the words, "through You."
Isaiah 49:8-12
Through you I am saying to the prisoners of darkness, 'Come out! I am giving you your freedom!' They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on the grassy hills. 10 They shall neither hunger nor thirst; the searing sun and scorching desert winds will not reach them any more. For the Lord in his mercy will lead them beside the cool waters. 11 And I will make my mountains into level paths for them; the highways shall be raised above the valleys. 12 See, my people shall return from far away, from north and west and south."
Note: Verses 8-12 resound with Psalms 23. David's shepherd heart penned the heart of God toward His people. Words like hunger, thirst, searing sun, scorching desert winds and leadings by cool waters are similar to one of the most quoted Bible verses. "My People" shows possession, which calls for provision and protection (All of which is promised here).

Note: there is a direction missing in this promise--East. The previous chapters have dwelled on the return of God's people from Babylon (East). The sweep from North to West to South represents all the places His people have been scattered. Remember, the prophet addressed "far away lands," because the Shepherd calls His flock from near and far. He, who gave a parable of the one lost sheep, is unwilling to spare a single soul.

More deeply than ever, the Lord shows the compassion of His heart toward His people.
Isaiah 49:13-18
Sing for joy, O heavens; shout, O earth. Break forth with song, O mountains, for the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion upon them in their sorrow.

14 Yet they say, "My Lord deserted us; he has forgotten us."

15 "Never! Can a mother forget her little child and not have love for her own son? Yet even if that should be, I will not forget you. 16 See, I have tattooed your name upon my palm, and ever before me is a picture of Jerusalem's walls in ruins.

17 Soon your rebuilders shall come and chase away all those destroying you. 18 Look and see, for the Lord has vowed that all your enemies shall come and be your slaves. They will be as jewels to display, as bridal ornaments.
Don't forget that the Lord said to the Priest: "Through you." That phrase could be added throughout this passage. "Through You" the Lord has comforted His people. To Abraham God said, "Through You shall all the nations be blessed." This is a greater promise than Abraham. "Through Jesus" flow every promise of God to His people.

Found in the "tattoo" is you! Yes, our names are in that indelible remembrance. I can picture the Name, Jesus is there with us in Him. His mission in Luke 4:12ff reflects such.

The Lord is interested in the plight of His people. Their need of assurance is filled in His "never" pledge. If ever a "never" message needs to be preached it is now. There are some "never" verses in the New Testament that ought to be explored.

"Never," with God, is big; it is an absolute!

The Lord compares His attachment to His people to a mother not able to abandon her nursing child-abandonment would be an unthinkable action. In order for His people to have the utmost assurance, He re-iterates, "I will not forget you."

The return of His people is viewed as a Bridal ornament. Bridal stuff precludes "a wedding" and alludes to the Lamb and His Bride. What we are viewing is an end time event. These passages lead us to the coming of the King.

Jesus in the role of King.

Kingly promises accompany the person of the King. Review these huge proclamations regarding His Kingship.
Isaiah 49:7
7 The Lord, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the One who is despised, rejected by mankind, and kept beneath the heel of the world's rulers: 'Kings shall stand at attention when you pass by; princes shall bow low because the Lord has chosen you; he, the faithful Lord, the Holy One of Israel, chooses you.'
Brothers and Sisters, when the Lord singles someone out and "chooses them" that is irrevocable dignity. This King is known for being "despised, rejected and under the heel of rulers." BUT, "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess" one day and what a day that will be. This is the message which was addressed to "far off lands." All the nations will bow before Him. (Note the deference paid to Him. Note the awarding of their place to Him.)
Isaiah 49:22-23
The Lord God says, 'See, I will give a signal to the Gentiles, and they shall carry your little sons back to you in their arms, and your daughters on their shoulders. 23 Kings and queens shall serve you; they shall care for all your needs. They shall bow to the earth before you and lick the dust from off your feet; then you shall know I am the Lord. Those who wait for me shall never be ashamed.'
And what a mighty end time signal came forth in the establishment of the people and the land. Not all this passage has happened, but enough has--to give those who wait upon Him encouragement in the face of great opposition. God and His covenant people will prevail!
Isaiah 49:24-26
24 Who can snatch the prey from the hands of a mighty man? Who can demand that a tyrant let his captives go? 25 But the Lord says, "Even the captives of the most mighty and most terrible shall all be freed; for I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children. 26 I will feed your enemies with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with rivers of their own blood. All the world shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel."
I am so happy with the last words of this chapter. These passages are about one thing and one thing only, "All the world shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel." As happy as many are that the state of Israel is established, the greatest joy comes from knowing He is the exalted One. Sailing across 2500 years is a prophetic promise that is being fulfilled. Only the Mighty One could do that!

Isaiah Chapter 50:

The next few chapters incorporate more than the return of the Jews from Babylon or their return in the end time as a nation, Israel. No, there are far more reaching circumstances to be taken into consideration. These chapters are about the loving care of God's covenant people through the ages. No matter the suffering and sorrow of their plight, there is an end and God is there all along. Regardless of the intricate details of how they arrive, this is as much about the Jerusalem above as the Jerusalem below. These passages are ALL about God and His power to override the decisions of nations and wall about His people, wherever they reside. However, this is not an idealistic or unrealistic approach. The sordid play of evil throughout history is evidenced in these next few chapters. Also incorporated in their mix are the immutable and reliable promises of God to those who rely upon Him.

In this chapter, the Lord begins by asking some probing questions. Why are you (My children) some other place than here with Me? Why are you not where you are supposed to be? Why are you not at "The Place (Jerusalem)?" Is it because I (The Lord) am inadequate? No, it is because of your sin.
Isaiah 50:1-3
1 The Lord asks, "Did I sell you to my creditors? Is that why you aren't here? Is your mother gone because I divorced her and sent her away? No, you went away as captives because of your sins. And your mother, too, was taken in payment for your sins. 2 Was I too weak to save you? Is that why the house is silent and empty when I come home? Have I no longer power to deliver? No, that is not the reason! For I can rebuke the sea and make it dry! I can turn the rivers into deserts, covered with dying fish. 3 I am the one who sends the darkness out across the skies."
(We might ask ourselves, "Why is my joy gone?" "Why don't I move in the gifts as I once did?" "Why am I discouraged and despondent?" Maybe, just maybe, our answer lies within.)

Right in the midst of these questions both Isaiah and Jesus enter the conversation and offer consolation. Even before the people have a response, they enter the quandary.
Isaiah 50:4-9
4 The Lord God has given me his words of wisdom so that I may know what I should say to all these weary ones. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. 5 The Lord God has spoken to me, and I have listened; I do not rebel nor turn away. 6 I give my back to the whip, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard. I do not hide from shame--they spit in my face.

7 Because the Lord God helps me, I will not be dismayed; therefore, I have set my face like flint to do his will, and I know that I will triumph. 8 He who gives me justice is near. Who will dare to fight against me now? Where are my enemies? Let them appear! 9 See, the Lord God is for me! Who shall declare me guilty? All my enemies shall be destroyed like old clothes eaten up by moths!
Examine this confident determination to do the will of God-no matter what! Look at the list below and see what transfer there is between God and His servant. Hear these confessions which should be ours as well.
"God has given me His words of wisdom."
"I know what I should say to all these weary ones."
"Morning by morning He awakens me and opens my understanding."
"God has spoken to me and I have listened."
"I do not rebel or turn away."
"I give my body to Him."
"The Lord helps me."
"I set my face…to do His will."
"I know I will triumph"
"God is near to me."
"The Lord God is FOR me."
This is not the end result of a self-improvement class, but the confession of Him who solely depends on the living God! That One is who will ask the following:
Isaiah 50:10-11
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his Servant? If such men walk in darkness, without one ray of light, let them trust the Lord, let them rely upon their God. 11 But see here, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves from your own fires and not from God's; you will live among sorrows.
Behold verse eleven! Verse eleven reaches into the heart of the real issue, both for Israel and the Church. If ever in the history of Christendom there is a universal appraisal more corresponding to this indictment-it is now! Information is so widespread that whole ministries can live in their own light and not the revelation of the Spirit. O' the warming of thousands from their own fires is almost the norm. BUT, God has light and fire that cannot be garnered by means of rationale or reason. This fire comes from above like at Pentecost and requires no doctrinal commitment.

O' let us disdain the strange fire and open our hearts to His fire.
Let us be Consumed By His Fire!

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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